California bails out Berkeley journalism program, promises more journalists from 'historically excluded backgrounds'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has allocated $25 million to UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism "to support and strengthen local reporting in underserved and historically underrepresented areas."


California Gov. Gavin Newsom has allocated $25 million to UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism "to support and strengthen local reporting in underserved and historically underrepresented areas across the state," according to a Wednesday announcement from the university.

Dean of the journalism school at Berkeley, Geeta Anand, stated the reasons for the move and how the school will use the money.

"We've got three reasons for taking this on," she tweeted. "1: we all see the world through the prism of our own lived experiences. So, who our storytellers are matters. If we don't have a diverse group of people becoming journalists, then we miss stories that matter."

"This is core to Berkeley Journalism's mission: removing the economic barriers for journalists who have historically been excluded from the industry. It's why 1/4 of our new class are 1st-gen college students, and nearly 60 percent are from communities underrepresented in journalism."

The second reason, according to Anand, is to prevent "corruption and disinformation" from "flood[ing] the zone. "Democracy is in trouble. We need to put journalism to work to protect it," she wrote. "That's what this project aims to do by putting talented early career journalists into local news organizations around the state."

As for the final reason, Anand wrote that it's time for the government to invest more in journalism as a "public good," a term that is reminiscent of countries that own the majority or all of its media companies, like the Voice of China conglomerate being funded by the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

"This may re-set the debate about the role of the public sector in journalism," Anand wrote. "Private philanthropy can only do so much, and billionaire owners aren't a solution. How states and communities can support journalism as a public good needs to be at the center of our thinking."

At a time when record levels of inflation have made the state of California too expensive to live in for many, the response to the massive state spending budget including millions to a prestigious university that already receives hundreds of millions in federal funding has not been overwhelmingly positive.

"Gavin, California and Berkeley collaborating on journalism with our tax dollars, how Pravdaesque," said one Californian Twitter user.

Plenty of others also pointed out the problems that may arise from state-funded journalism.

"This is utter lunacy and arguably against the First Amendment--privileging media with Government revenues over others lacking such support," wrote former New York Republican congresswoman Nan Hayworth. 

David Harsanyi, editor of the Federalist, likened the move to fascism.


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